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The UNILIFT kit even includes separate mounting bolt sets for the array of routers it fits!
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The UNILIFT from Woodpeckers

Extraordinary quality, versatility and value

Text & Photos by Tom Hintz

   Router lifts have come a long way in a relatively short time. The folks at Woodpeckers have been a driving force in that evolution with their innovative engineering and state-of-the-art machining. Consequently, Woodpecker router lifts, plates and accessories have been favorites of woodworkers for a long time. The UNILIFT is the latest addition to their line.

Initial Impressions

   The Woodpecker UNILIFT is impressive right out of the box. All of its components are precisely machined from top-shelf materials down to the turned solid brass starter pin and crank handle. Combined with solid,

(Top) The removeable mounting plate is drilled for a large number of routers.
(Bottom) Using the included bolts, attaching the router is simple.
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thoughtful engineering, Woodpeckers high-end manufacturing produces a lift that is as durable as it is functional.

Mounting Plates

   The UNILIFT moniker is appropriate considering the array of routers that are compatible with it. A special mounting plate is drilled and threaded to fit several popular mounting patterns that accommodate no less than 23 different routers from 9 manufacturers. Additional plates are available with bolt patterns to fit even more routers.
   For users with multiple routers, the UNILIFT makes changing over a simple task. Equip the routers you want to use in the table with the appropriate mounting plate and they can be changed out in just a few minutes.
   Another nice touch is including labeled bags of quality mounting fasteners for all of the routers that fit the plate.

The Plate

The plate is super flat and features dual height adjustment sockets (lower left & upper right) plus the above-table socket for setting and releasing the brake. (lower right)
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   A solid piece of cast, 3/8"-thick tool-quality aluminum plate is blanchard ground to be sure it is absolutely flat and precision machined to form the foundation of the UNILIFT. The finished dimensions of the plate itself are 9-1/4" x 11-3/4", making them compatible with many (not all) production tables. Most of the plate remains a full 3/8"-thick for maximum rigidity.
   Eight Allen screws are factory-installed around the perimeter to make leveling the plate with the surrounding table easy. A pair of spring-loaded brass plungers located on one long and one short side work like automatic spacers that keep the UNILIFT firmly positioned in the table recess for additional routing accuracy.
   A recess machined in the underside of the main plate allows the adapter plate to which the router is attached to rise above its lower surface. That reduces the total bit height loss to 5/16". The exception is the DeWalt DW625, which is more limited when using very short bits because of its very limited extension.

Lift Mechanism

(Top) Twin guide posts and a lift screw on either end of the lift plate make this a very stable system.
(Bottom) A unique "brake" locks and unlocks the height adjustment.
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   The UNILIFT is extraordinarily stable because of the four polished steel guide posts and twin lift screws. This unique method of lifting and guiding the plate on both ends prevents even small misalignments that would cause binding and premature wear of critical parts.
   The lift screws are available in either 1/16" (fast) or 1/32" (fine) pitch at no additional cost. The fast pitch lifts the router 1/16" for each full turn of the crank handle while the fine version halves that with 1/32" of rise per turn. You choose the pitch desired when purchasing the lift from Woodpecker.
   Bit height is adjusted using the included crank handle, inserted into a socket on the plate surface. A scale surrounds the adjuster socket, calibrated to match the selected pitch, allowing very precise changes to be made quickly.
   The chain-driven lift mechanism has idler gears at two corners, one of which is actually a brake that when engaged, locks the lift to prevent changes in height during routing. The brake is engaged with an Allen wrench (included) from above the table by turning a socket bolt approximately ¼-turn.
   Another unique feature of the UNILIFT lift mechanism is a full 3 ¾" of travel. That is roughly 1" more than most plunge bases offer and exceeds the vertical capacity of most lifts using the routers base for mounting. This is important because the lift range of the UNILIFT expands the range of bit styles and lengths that can be used.

Insert Rings

The aluminum insert rings are finely machined and fit perfectly.
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   The UNILIFT comes with three of Woodpeckers Twist Lock insert rings: 1", 2 5/8" and a 1 3/16" stepped hole that fits the Porter Cable guide bushings. A chrome-plated spanner wrench, used to install and remove the Twist Lock rings is included.
   The Twist Lock rings are remarkable pieces of machining, indicative of how Woodpecker approaches manufacturing their products. Carved from aluminum, each ring is finely machined and fits the plate very precisely. The machining is so precise that when installed firmly, we were unable to find more than 0.001" difference between the surface of the plate and the Twist Lock rings. That means stock will not catch on the edge of the rings or the hole they fit in making routing more accurate and safer.

In the Shop

Calibrated dials at two corners of the plate accurately show even tiny height changes.
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   The UNILIFT was initially evaluated using a Bosch 1617 and Porter Cable 890 routers. Both mounted and performed perfectly. However, to really stress test the UNILIFT, the majority of the evaluation process was done with our 18-lb Porter Cable 7518, fixed base 3 ¼-hp router installed.
Note: The fixed base handles interfere with the drive chain mechanism near the top of the lift range. This is only a problem with very short bits.
   The UNILIFT was checked for deflection before and after installing the PC 7518 and read flat to within 0.001" in both cases. Flatness of the UNILIFT was also checked after extensive routing with the PC 7518 installed and again measured flat within 0.001" showing it had not sagged at all.

We used a Oneway MultiGage dial indicator to check for flatness, accuracy of height travel and how level the insert rings are to the plate. All passed easily.
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   The Twist Lock inserts were also measured after installation to see how flush to the UNILIFT surface they were. When installing the Twist Lock inserts the first two or three times, they had to be given a little extra nudge when tightening to be perfectly flush. After being installed and removed a few times, they routinely seated flush to the UNILIFT surface with a maximum difference noted well under 0.001".
   The height adjustment was checked with a dial indicator and showed that the circular scale is very accurate. The dial indicator showed bit height changes to be within 0.002" of what the scale indicated.
   To test the brake feature a several bit styles were installed and after adjusting their cutting height and locking the brake, measured with the dial indicator before and after routing. In all cases, virtually no change in bit height was noted. This is a very clear indication that the brake works.
   Throughout testing, regardless of the bit installed, the router and UNILIFT ran very smoothly with no vibration transmitted to the table, even at the start of cuts. The spring-loaded plungers in the plates edge prevent small movements in a properly sized opening, eliminating shifting when the wood meets the cutter.

Conclusions

Everything about the UNILIFT down to the all-brass start pin and nicely machined crank handle show quality and sophisticated manufacturing.
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   The Woodpecker UNILIFT is a very well made, thoughtfully designed router lift that easily handles the tasks of a modern woodworking shop. While designed to accommodate a large number of routers, this design is particularly useful for those that do not have a removable motor.
   The only down side is that to change bits above the table with this type of lift a collet extension or a special stepped collet wrench (Woodpecker makes them also) is needed. This is due to the design of the router base and typical of lifts that use them for mounting, not a limitation of the UNILIFT. Routers with removable cylindrical motors can use the Woodpecker Precision Lift, which allows above-table bit changes.
   The UNILIFT is not only a great lift plate, it is an exceptional value because Woodpecker designs, manufactures and sells their products direct to you. The result is very high quality equipment like the UNILIFT that carries a price of only $289. (2-16-2005)


Click Here to see or purchase the UNILIFT on the Woodpecker web site.

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